Parashas Terumah

This week’s parashah begins with Hashem telling Moshe to tell the Jewish People that “they should take Me a portion” (Shemos 25:2). The Midrash expounds (Shemos Rabbah 33:1):
“They should take (וְיִקְחוּ) Me a portion.” It is written (Mishlei 4:2): “For I have given you good counsel (לֶקַח, literally acquisition) – Do not forsake My Torah.” Do not abandon the possession that I gave you. Sometimes a person purchases an item which has gold but not silver. And sometimes a person purchases an item that has silver but not gold. But the possession that I have given you has silver … and it has gold …. Sometimes a person buys a tract that has fields but not vineyards. And sometimes a person buys a tract that has vineyards but not fields. But this possession has both fields and vineyards …. Also, have you ever seen a transaction where the seller sells himself along with the object of purchase? Said the Holy One Blessed Be He to the People of Israel: “When I ‘sold’ you My Torah, I ‘sold’ Myself to you with it, so to speak.” As it is written: “They should take Me [as] a portion.”
The Maggid expounds on this Midrash in his commentary on Esther 1:1 in Kol Yaakov. He links it to another Midrash that comments on the meeting between Yisro and Moshe after the Exodus. The Torah states (Shemos 18:8): “And Moshe told his father-in-law all that Hashem had done ….” The Midrash comments (Yalkut Shimoni I:268): “That He gave Torah to His People Israel.” [There is a difference of opinion among the authorities as to whether the meeting between Yisro and Moshe took place before or after the Torah was given. Evidently this Midrash follows the view that the meeting took place after the Torah was given.] The Maggid asks: How can the plural term all refer to the giving of the Torah, which is just a single specific event? He answers by saying that the Torah encompasses all there is. The Midrash on Shemos 25:2 quoted above conveys the same message.
The Sages teach (Avos 6:1): “Whoever involves himself in Torah for its own sake merits many things ….” The Maggid asks: What is the meaning of the phrase “many things”? What does it come to add beyond the specific things that the Mishnah enumerates immediately afterwards?
The Maggid answers by drawing an analogy between the Torah and the manna that the Jewish People ate in the wilderness. Our Sages tell us that each person tasted in the manna whatever he desired (Yoma 74b and Rashi ad loc.; see also Mechilta Yisro 1). Now, the effect of the manna depended on what the person eating it had in mind. If a person ate the manna with an a priori desire to experience the taste of a specific food – meat, for example – then the manna would reflect just that specific taste. If, however, a person ate the manna without anything particular in mind, he would taste in it all types of delicacies.
It is the same with the Torah. If a person involves himself in Torah in order to satisfy some particular desire, be it riches or honor or whatever, then he is granted the particular blessing that he wished for, but no more. But if a person involves himself in Torah purely for its own sake, without desiring to attain any material benefit, then it provides him with all the blessings in the world. This is what the Sages mean when they say that “whoever involves himself in Torah for its own sake merits many things.” 
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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